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Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

The huge structure covered with thick plastic on all sides stands out in Durungri in Pemagatshel. Inside the structure, called a greenhouse, it smells of green and summer.

The chilli plants are getting ready. They look fresh and healthy. Soon they will be moved from the house into the open fields. Outside, four young men are preparing the land. The members of the Thuenpa Puenzhi group are optimistic looking at the health of the chilli seedlings.

Besides chillies, there are tomato seedlings the four members, all school dropouts, readied in September soon after the nationwide lockdown was lifted.

The group is preparing to grow winter vegetables. The weather is bright and the prospect brighter, should all go well as planned.

The group leader, Sonam Gyeltshen, 27, said that although the group planned to take up mass vegetable cultivation a long time black, they could not as the group did not get land. Finance was another problem.

This summer, they secured four acres of land. On top of it, the gewog administration and agriculture office gave technical support. They are thinking big already.

“We want to produce enough vegetables for the country, and also thinking of exporting,” said Sonam Gyeltshen. Asked if they are not counting the chickens before the eggs are laid, Sonam Gyeltshen said the group is confident that farming would be successful and meet their objectives.

He said the group is also planning to take up other vegetables. Their focus now is on chillies knowing that there is shortage and price it fetches. The group, Sonam said, is planning to register for the lead farmers training.

The agriculture sector in Pemagatshel supported the group with greenhouse, seeds and technical inputs among others so far. “The office would also provide necessary support such as training in farming,” an official said.

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